Missing: Boyfriend's Libido

Dear Edahn,

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about a year and a half. We see a lot of each other, pretty much everyday, yet we don't have sex very often. When we do have sex, he has to be in the mood. On the other hand, when I am in the mood, he claims that he is tired and not horny. We end up arguing over this every so often, probably once every 2 weeks. Because we do not have sex that often, I think that he would jump at the chance to have sex with me if I wanted it, yet I fear that because he is so "comfortable", I may not turn him on like I used to. Usually I feel like I want sex a lot more often then he does, and this has posed a problem for me. What am I to make of all of this?

There isn't much to make of this yet because it sounds like you don't really know what's going on. When the opportunity to discuss what's going on with him comes up, you both end up arguing instead of communicating objectively and openly. I'm not blaming you; I can fully understand why someone would react to a situation like this defensively. Besides not getting what you want, it's easy to take these rejections personally and start thinking that there's either something wrong with you or something wrong with your relationship. Both thoughts can be distressing, but in order to actually diagnose what's going on, you have to restrain yourself (and him) from fighting or blaming. You can try saying something like "you know it's really tough for me to get rejected by you, but I'm going to put that aside for now. I just want to talk to you about what's going on and understand why you're not in the mood."

So what's happening with him? I believe him when he says he's not in the mood, but why? Does he have a weak sex drive or is something else going on? I can think of a bunch of possible issues that are crippling his sex drive: internet porn interfering with his arousal threshold, depression, existential/direction issues, performance anxiety, and other things. Most of these can be resolved with a good, caring talk and some patience. Joining a gym and working out together can also help with mood and anxiety issues.

If you've been spending every day together, then I can't help but wonder if you guys have turned into desexualized roommates. I also wonder what your conversation is like. Has it turned cliche and routine? Are you covering the same topics over and over? Does it seem kind of mechanical? Dinner, work, plans, complaining? Routines by themselves are normal, but they can also be a sign that you both are too dependent on your relationship roles. When you interact exclusively through a role, you sacrifice authenticity and intimacy. That, in turn, can impact your sex life.

If you think you've become desexualized, then reclaim your sexiness and sensuality. Do it for yourself, rather than for him. Why? Because it's fun. There's no right and wrong way to be sexy. Well-fitted clothing, good posture, sensual movements, a little flirtatiousness, some hipster accessories, and a little make up will work wonders for your inner sexicaciousness. If you feel like you've become too dependent on your roles, then shake things up a bit. Have a conversation about something meaningful (without being whiney, which is just part of the role). Talk about your goals in life, your direction, your big fears, your passions, the obstacles you face in relationships, etc. Introduce more humor into your relationship. Try some new things. Have fun! Punch him in the balls occasionally. Whatever. Spontaneity and risk are the antithesis of routine role-clinging.

The point of all of this is for you to determine what your boyfriend's baseline sex-drive is, i.e., what's normal for him in the absence of any major issues. It could be that this is his baseline and that nothing's really wrong. Maybe he's just not that interested in sex. On the other maybe there is something dampening his sex drive. Once you diagnose and resolve those issues, you'll have a better idea of what to expect from him, sexually. If that's something you can live with, then cool. If that's absolutely not enough and you foresee yourself dwelling on this issue in the future, then cut your losses and move on. You don't want to get trapped in a marriage where you're constantly dissatisfied with and forced to rationalize your sex life.